The fifth China-Arab States Expo has generated a bonanza in the form of agreements for as many as 277 projects that will likely entail 156.67 billion yuan ($24.1 billion) in investments.
This shows the annual event－it opened on Thursday and will close on Sunday in Yinchuan, capital of Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region－has become a successful platform to promote trade among the various participating countries, attendees and event hosts said on Friday.
"The 277 projects show the expo's role in promoting economic relations among the countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. Going forward, the expo will add new vitality to the BRI, bring new opportunities to economic cooperation between China and other BRI economies, and add a strong momentum to the high-quality development of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region," said Zhao Yongqing, vice-chairman of the region.
The 277 projects cover a range of areas: digitalization, clean energy, new materials, environmentally friendly agricultural products, cooperation in production capacity, internet-based healthcare and tourism.
Eight are national-level projects, including a photovoltaic project with Indonesia and a smart energy project with Saudi Arabia worth 11.18 billion yuan.
Twelve projects worth a combined 7.43 billion yuan were signed between eight provinces from China and Arab states as well as countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
The rest 257 totaling 138.06 billion yuan were signed between the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and other countries and regions.
Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, said the expo offers a good platform for companies in the BRI footprint to showcase their latest technologies and products, and seek new opportunities in trade and economic cooperation.
This year's expo is featuring meetings and exhibitions on technologies and products used in healthcare, clean energy, digital economy, and environmentally friendly farming. It has attracted over 1,000 companies that are participating either physically at the event venue or virtually online.
"Arab countries have been important trading partners and major energy suppliers to China. Both sides have strong needs to deepen economic relations and strike agreements on developing mutual interests. Going forward, there will be more fields, including finance, low-carbon development, infrastructure, and transportation, that are likely to see an increase in cooperation,"Zhou said.
"Both sides are also working for mechanisms to guarantee safe and stable economic activities to avoid risks from geopolitical conflicts."
The country is now the largest trading partner of Arab states that have also collectively become China's largest overseas supplier of crude oil, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
In the first half of this year, bilateral trade between China and Arab countries was worth $144.27 billion, up 26 percent year-on-year, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a recent news conference.
As of July, China has signed cooperation agreements with 19 Arab economies for construction projects under the BRI framework, according to a report released during the expo.
The report said China-Arab cooperation in energy has been deepening. There are an increasing number of cooperation projects in areas of electricity, communication, and industrial parks. Also, cooperation in fields like nuclear energy and satellites has been advancing.